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Why is Delta Plus Variant Concerning?

Published On Jun 23, 2021 11:00 AM By Sakshi Aggarwal

The Union Health Ministry on Tuesday categorised the new novel coronavirus variant Delta Plus as the “variant of concern”. The health ministry also advised 3 states namely Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, and Maharashtra to increase containment measures in the district where the variant has been found.    

Cases of Delta Plus Variant So Far

So far, Maharashtra has confirmed 21 cases of people affected with the Delta plus variant in the state. Until yesterday, Kerala’s Palakkad and Pathanamthitta had at least 3 new cases, one of them being a four year old boy. 5 cases have been reported from Madhya Pradesh, of which 4 who received the vaccine were healthy. Whereas Karnataka has reported two cases of the variant. 

The new Delta Plus variant has been categorised as the “variant of concern” because of its characteristics including increased transmissibility, stronger binding to receptors of lung cells and potential reduction in monoclonal antibody response. 

What is Delta Plus Variant? 

The Delta Plus variant, also known as AY.1 variant is a mutated erosion of B.1.717.2 strain, which the WHO named delta. The strain was responsible for the spread of the second wave of COVID-19 infections in India. Like delta, the Delta Plus variant has a spike protein region of the RNA virus that makes it potentially more transmissible. The spike protein helps the virus enter the human cells and infect them. The mutation is associated with immune escape which makes the virus less influenced by any form of drug therapy. 

Cause of Concern For Delta Plus Variant

As the second wave of the virus is declining in India, many states have resumed operations by easing the lockdown restrictions. This may lead to the virus getting transmitted rapidly. 

It is too early to say if the delta plus variant can escape the effect of the vaccine or not, as the cases reported are low, as well as there is no indication of how severe the disease is. Enough studies are to be conducted to find if the variant shows any significant level of immune escape. 

According to the health experts, the Delta variant may lead to a possible third wave. But with delta being the dominant variant in India, the prevalence  of Delta Plus variant is still low. But considering the Delta variant also had low prevalence and it spread rapidly, possible measures should be taken to curb the spread of Delta Plus variant as soon as possible. 

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Disclaimer: This article is issued in the general public interest and meant for general information purposes only. Readers are advised not to rely on the contents of the article as conclusive in nature and should research further or consult an expert in this regard.

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